2016 Victorian Australian of the Year recipients announced
The Governor of Victoria, The Hon Linda Dessau AM, has announced the 2016 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients at a ceremony at the Aerial function centre in Melbourne this evening.
Congratulating the four award recipients, The Hon Linda Dessau AM said, “It is a pleasure for me to announce the recipients of this year's Victorian Australian of the Year Awards. It is inspiring to consider the wonderful work of the finalists, each of whom is making an extraordinary contribution to life in Victoria.
“The nominees in each category give us great confidence and optimism as to where our State is heading. They cover many varied fields, each of significance to the people of Victoria and Australia. These Awards are just one part of the recognition they deserve.
“I congratulate all finalists, commend the recipients on their fantastic achievements, and wish them well in their future pursuits.”
Julian McMahon has been named 2016 Victorian Australian of the Year for his work as a barrister, human rights advocate and fierce opponent of the death penalty.
Julian has a personal and passionate commitment to represent Australians in capital punishment cases abroad. Admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1998, for more than 12 years Julian has worked without payment for Australians facing the death penalty. Julian’s clients include Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore, George Forbes in Sudan and members of the Bali Nine, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. In the months leading up to the executions of Chan and Sukumaran in April 2015, the overwhelming demands of their case required Julian and other lawyers on the case to make many personal sacrifices and, in Julian’s case, to exclude all other work. Instead, he remained wholly focused on his clients. Articulate and measured, Julian presented at the Asian Regional Congress on the Death Penalty in June 2015 in Malaysia and continues to speak out in opposition to the death penalty.
Indigenous elder and role model Jack Charles has been awarded 2016 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year.
One of the nation’s most respected and enduring actors, 72 year old Jack Charles is a member of Australia’s stolen generation. Removed from his mother as a baby and raised in a Salvation Army boys’ home, Jack knew nothing of his Indigenous heritage as a child. At 19 he began a career as an actor, but his life was plagued by personal demons. His addiction to heroin and a life of crime saw him jailed. Despite his struggles, he co-founded Australia’s first Indigenous theatre group, Nindethana, meaning ‘place of corroboree’, at Melbourne’s Pram Factory in 1971. His first play, Jack Charles is Up and Fighting, was a runaway hit. Jack has appeared in several movies, including the landmark film, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, and more recently Pan alongside Hugh Jackman. He has also toured his own one-man stage show locally and internationally. Now calm and centred, Jack is a strong role model for a new generation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The 2016 Victorian Young Australian of the Year is 25 year old Canterbury resident Robert Gillies.
Undertaking three university degrees simultaneously, leading an orchestra and playing for a number of sporting clubs would leave most people exhausted. But not Robert Gillies. He’s also found the time to devote himself to social enterprises that make a difference to some of our most vulnerable citizens. When he’s not studying for his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, his Masters’ in Public Health or Diploma in Philosophy, Robert can be found helping those experiencing homelessness. A Co-Founder of Homeless of Melbourne, Robert is determined to change negative attitudes towards homelessness through his charity clothing store ‘HoMie’. As Executive-Director of Yarra Swim Co, Robert is reviving the historic ‘Race to Princes Bridge’ and leading the push for a swimmable Yarra River. He’s worked as an HIV researcher and served as a director for charities preventing poverty overseas and in remote Indigenous communities. Enthusiastic and determined, Robert is a role model for young Australians wanting to make the world a better place.
Flemington’s Rebecca Scott has been awarded 2016 Victorian Local Hero for her work as a social entrepreneur.
Travelling the globe, Rebecca Scott created a vision to combine the best street-eating with a program to help young people living on the streets. With a social enterprise business model and initial funding in place, STREAT started operations in Melbourne’s Federation Square in 2010, providing young people with life skills, work experience and training. From two small food carts, three staff and nine homeless teenagers, STREAT has grown to provide training for 400 youth at risk while serving tasty food and coffee to more than a million customers. With drive, intelligence, relentless hard work and the support of her co-founder and life partner, Kate Barrelle, Rebecca has raised upwards of $6 million in philanthropic support. Despite immense challenges – training young people dealing with chronic homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, family violence, mental health issues and learning difficulties is no easy task – Rebecca now runs five cafés and catering and coffee roasting businesses that help vulnerable youths kick-start their lives.
The Victorian Award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national Awards to be announced on 25 January 2016 in Canberra.
Premier of Victoria, The Hon Daniel Andrews MP was in attendance at the presentation of the 2016 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards.
“On behalf of the people of Victoria, it is with great pride that I congratulate the recipients of the 2016 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Andrews.
“They are truly inspirational and great role models for Australians young and old. The dedication and commitment each of them shows to their chosen field is something for us all to truly admire.”
National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the Victorian Award recipients are four inspirational Australians.
"The Victorian Award recipients come from many different walks of life but these four hard working Australians are following their passions to create positive change in society," said Mr Lasek.
For more than 36 years, the Commonwealth Bank has been a proud sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards. Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, congratulated the Victorian Award recipients.
“Congratulations to the Victorian recipients on being named national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. We recognise their inspirational contribution to our community and wish them well for the national Awards,” said Mr Narev.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards finalists and recipeints visit australianoftheyear.org.au.